Telstra's BigPond slammed in broadband survey

JOHANNESBURG (01/20/2004) - The latest annual survey of broadband subscribers conducted by Whirlpool Corp. has shown that the vast majority of Telstra Corp. Ltd. subscribers are less satisfied with their connectivity than customers of smaller ISPs.

Conducted over four weeks in late 2003, the survey collated the input of more than 10,000 broadband subscribers. The results reflect poorly on Australia's largest carrier, which has admitted to having a litany of problems during 2003, most of which have since been resolved.

Telstra was slammed for its service reliability. At least a quarter of its customers were not happy with the reliability. A further 11.3 percent of BigPond Cable customers and 9.9 percent of BigPond ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) customers were "outraged" over the issue.

Alongside DataFast Telecommunications Ltd., and, to a lesser degree iiNet Ltd., Telstra customers were forced to endure some long periods of downtime. The majority of surveyed Telstra customers spent between seven to 12 hours and a whole week without connectivity during the year.

Internode Systems Pty. Ltd., Swiftel Ltd. and WestNet Pty. Ltd., on the other hand, were among those service providers applauded for their reliability of service, with more than 75 percent of their customers "very happy."

Telstra's customer service was rated lowest among all the service providers offered to survey respondents. More than 44 percent of BigPond Cable subscribers and more than 47 percent of BigPond ADSL subscribers described Telstra's customer service as average. A further 34.5 percent of BigPond Cable and 28.6 percent of BigPond ADSL subscribers went as far as to describe the customer service as "awful." The vast majority of customers using smaller providers, such as WestNet and Internode, however, said that their provider's customer service was good or excellent.

Telstra's BigPond ADSL and Cable plans were also slammed over clauses in the telco's service contracts that allow the carrier to change conditions at any time.

The majority of survey respondents (82.5 percent) said that Telstra should not own the ADSL network as well as compete with resellers.

In better news, some 93.8 percent of respondents suggested that they would never go back to dial-up if they could help it -- a sure sign that the broadband revolution is providing value to end-users.

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